Mixing It Up: 15 Activities to Prevent Stale Training

About a week and a half ago I began going to a fitness bootcamp at a neighborhood gym. I figured it was time to start mixing up my routine from solely distance running. I was getting bored with my exercise routine, which was incredibly de-motivating.

As I was in the middle of a set of burpees, it dawned on me just how important it really is to mix things up in a professional development and training setting, too.

Bored2

I’ve found that even though I pride myself on designing engaging, interactive, creative training programs, I will often go to the same activities time and time again. If you find yourself in a similar situation, here is a list of 15 activities that can help stave off routine, boring, stale training programs:

Want to get people to brainstorm ideas?

Mix some of the following into your session: Continue reading

9 ways to get smarter if your bus (or subway) is running late this morning

Bus Stop

I was out of breath, but I had made it. I had just sprinted two city blocks up a (small-ish) hill, dodged oncoming traffic, hurdled a raccoon that just happened to waddle out of a neighbor’s hedge and firmly planted my two feet at the base of the bus stop sign. It was 7:03am, and I was on time. Barely.

Then I checked the OneBusAway app to find out when the bus would arrive and my blood pressure began to rise.

I had risked life and limb to catch the early bus, and it was delayed. Not just delayed… it was delayed EIGHT. WHOLE. MINUTES!

Suddenly a strange, Zen-like feeling washed over me. Instead of getting upset or indignant, I could be thankful for an 8-minute window I could use to get smarter or learn something new.

If you’re in a similar situation this morning as you commute to work, here are 9 articles, resources or videos you may want to check out in order to productively spend your minutes before that next bus (or train or plane or automobile) arrives: Continue reading

An Increasingly Cantankerous L&D Professional Makes His Birthday Wish(es)

Birthday Candles

As I grow older, I’m not sure I’m getting any wiser, but I sure seem to be getting grumpier. While I try not to use this space to vent with an unconstructive, unproductive airing of grievances, today is my birthday so I’m going to indulge in a bit of curmudgeonly pontifications.

With forty candles on my cake this year, I’m assuming that means I get forty wishes as long as I can blow out all the candles in one big breath. Here are 40 things I wish for the future of learning and development:  Continue reading

Including Remote Staff in your Next Training Session

Max Headroom

A month and a half ago, we had a high profile speaker come to our headquarters and some of our remote staff wanted to be included in her training presentation. We set them up in Adobe Connect, we turned on the web cam in the conference room, we projected the remote staff on the screens in the front of the room (so we wouldn’t forget about them), and then… we forgot about them.

They were seen, but not really heard, during the presentation.

We struggle to include remote staff in our meetings and training sessions. Have you had similar problems?

Recently I was involved in a training program and the organization that hosted the event may have stumbled upon a better way to include remote staff.   Continue reading

20 Reasons to Embrace Role Play

Role Play

“Ok everyone, we’re going to shift gears now and move into an activity. It’s a role play…”

Before you can finish your sentence, 80% of the room groans, 12% roll their eyes, 5% just sit in silent judgment of you and 3% suddenly need to step out of the room to take an “important” call.

In my experience, people almost universally despise role play activities. This is an important point to acknowledge as you design your next training segment, but it doesn’t mean we should toss this instructional strategy out. Here are 20 reasons for L&D professionals to embrace role play:

  1. The training room is a “lab without consequences” and role play allows people to try out new things before they need to actually do those things in a work setting. “What kinds of things?” you ask…
  2. Coaching.
  3. Giving feedback.
  4. Receiving feedback.
  5. Interviewing.
  6. Customer service.
  7. Sales.
  8. Courageous conversations around difficult topics. The list could go on this way, but let’s look at some other reasons, too.
  9. Sometimes things sound so much better in your head than they do when they come out of your mouth. Role play allows you to better align the intent in your head to the delivery that comes out of your mouth.
  10. As my 3rd grade daughter says: “practice makes progress.”
  11. Sometimes it’s just a lot easier to have learners try your new content or way of doing things on for size (through role play) as opposed to continuing to talk in conceptual terms.
  12. If people don’t like “role play”, then this type of activity allows you to use cool words like “simulation” or “interactive case study” instead.
  13. It gets your learners involved, allowing them no other choice than to stay present and engage with your content.
  14. Which means that if it’s an activity scheduled immediately after lunch, there will be no temptation to doze off!
  15. For presenters who don’t like to be the center of attention, role play takes the attention completely off you… for a little while, anyway.
  16. Role play allows designers to unleash their creativity in the scenarios they outline for their learners to navigate.
  17. By adding their own spin, learners may take your content and concepts to a level you didn’t even know existed, which makes role play a learning opportunity for presenters as well.
  18. If your learners didn’t know each other before a role playing activity, they sure will know each other afterwards!
  19. The buzz and energy and conversations that permeate the room as learners are role playing can be infectious and carry over throughout the remainder of your presentation (seriously, compare the energy in the room between a lecture and a role play… which seems like an environment that is more alive?).
  20. The de-brief of a role play is fairly easy to set up (“What was easy about that? What proved to be most challenging?”) yet can lead to so many ah-ha moments, and isn’t that what training is all about?

Looking for something beyond role play? Here are 18 instructor-led training activities you could use to engage your learners in a variety of training situations.

What did I miss? Any other reasons to embrace role play? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comment section!

Know someone who’s reluctant to insert role playing activities into their presentations? Why not pass this along?

L&D Lessons from Bollywood Megastar Kareena Kapoor

Kareena Kapoor

About a year ago, the movie Singham Returns hit movie theaters across India. On my most recent trip, I was reminded of an interview that actress Kareena Kapoor gave during her promotional tour for the movie. Re-reading the newspaper interview, I was struck by the similarities between a Bollywood megastar and a learning and development professional.

Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but humor me and see if any of these sound bites from the interview resonate with you.  Continue reading